How the 2020 Virginia Trade Mission went Virtual

Last time we posted it was in February, to let Mexico know about the 9 Virginia companies that would be coming down this year for the 2020 VEDP Trade Mission. Boy did we not see covid coming! But here we are.

The Virginia mission, an annual event where a multi-sector group of companies comes to Mexico City to for a week of 1-1 meetings with potential partners and B2B customers, was scheduled to take place the week of March 23. By the time Virginia’s Governor Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency for the Commonwealth on March 12, it had become clear that Virginia could not in good conscience endorse a delegation of companies to attend even a small-scale networking event.

To avoid cancelling the mission altogether, in addition to the option of rescheduling, Virginia gave the 9 companies the option of “a virtual mission,” meaning they would do videoconferencing instead of in-person meetings. In one form or another, 6 companies took this option, though just 1 could do the whole mission virtually. We’ve had 30 scheduled meetings to take place virtually so far, and just one cancelled at the last minute, so we consider that pretty seamless.

  • 9 business meetings with Mexican local, state or federal government customers
  • 12 meetings with Mexican channel partners in digital transformation, logistics management, specialized marketing services, or security
  • 9 meetings with Mexican B2B customers in retail, logistics, the chemical industries

That’s only actually about 25% of our expected mission load that has now been taken care of virtually, but already we’re seeing it bode well as a pathway to the new normal, where companies won’t necessarily be able to travel at the drop of a hat, even given the relative proximity of Mexico City to Virginia.

What do we predict? Well, we’ve recommended that companies generally consider doing video meetings before they travel to qualify their contacts, and we’ve proven that it can be done with relative ease. This is important for companies whose opportunities may surface before they have the all-clear to travel. Furthermore, a hybrid approach may even ensure that once companies do hold in-person meetings they are more productive work session instead of casual get-to-know-yous.

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